Limón Dance Company, Joyce Theater, May 2, 2017
Limόn Dance Company
May 2, 2017
This program combines the contemporary with the classics in the first Joyce season under the Company’s new artistic director, Colin Connor.
The final work of the altogether gripping evening was made in 2016 with choreography by Kate Ware. Night Light is partly set to the Passacaglia for unaccompanied violin from Biber’s “The Rosary” Sonata and partly to “A Song for Mick Kelly.” The athletic dancers, some of the women wearing what closely resembled black two-piece ‘bathing suits;’ the rest of the group in flowing dark and royal blue tops, weave and leap, almost fighting one another. The work is powerful and haunting. The other 2016 dance, Corvidae, choreographed by Mr. Connor, turns the dancers into Corvids, i.e., crows and ravens, who have been seen throughout the ages as messengers. The dark lighting and black costumes gave the six dancers an edge of menace further expressed by darting, flicking movements.
The opening piece, Concerto Grosso, is all joy as Kathryn Alter, Elise Drew and Jesse Obremski leap and whirl, the women in draped short flowing gowns that add to the sense of uplift. The three parts of the work are set to (set to Bach’s Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596, after Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 3, No. 11) with the formal beauty of the high baroque. The uplift of this work contrasts starkly with The Exiles that invokes the expulsion from the Garden of Eden with—if you wish to extend the metaphor—a reference to the exiled immigrants of today. The stark dance begins with Kristen Foote and the mesmerizing Mark Willis displaying shame that ultimately becomes transformed into pleasure. Their costumes by Pauline Lawrence imagine nudity with green ribbons standing in for clothes.
The evocative lighting by Christopher Chambers gave each dance appropriate background and weight, a significant achievement as the stage is entirely bare.
The Limón Dance Company has been at the vanguard of dance since its inception in 1946, distinguishing itself as the first dance group to tour internationally under the auspices of the State Department and the first modern dance company to perform at Lincoln Center in New York, as well as performing twice at The White House. José Limón possessed a social awareness that transcended distinct groups to address how we all search for commonality, earning him a special place in American culture. With their arresting visual clarity, theatricality, and rhythmic and musical life, his works continue to influence the evolution of the art form more than 40 years after his passing. The Company has developed a repertory of unparalleled breadth to complement the classics by its founders Doris Humphrey and Limón, including works by such luminaries as Jiři Kylián, Doug Varone, Lar Lubovitch, Donald McKayle, Murray Louis, Susanne Linke, Meredith Monk, and now Kate Weare. The José Limón Dance Foundation, encompassing the Company and the educational and licensing Institute, was awarded a 2008 National Medal of the Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence.